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Tour Rundown: Mickelson’s 5th, Vic Open times 2, Taylor and Langer, too

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This week in February is an important one. Seven days after a controversial tournament on the European Tour, that circuit and the LPGA meet in Australia, at the Vic Open. What’s different? Instead of dancing around societal issues, the Vic Open explodes them by offering equal pay to both genders. Professional golf can work to improve our world, it appears. The PGA Tour returned to the worst-timed event on the schedule, where rain and hail and worse arrive to frustrate golfers. Somehow, the tournament went off and concluded as planned. The Web.Com tour pegged balls in Panama, while the Champions tour found a home in south Florida. For a complete tour rundown, you’ve come to the proper place. Let’s have a look.

PGA Tour: AT&T goes to Mickelson for 5th time

Say what you will about horses for courses, but Phil Mickelson has quietly made the Monterey peninsula his playground. Mickelson unexpectedly claimed victory this week at Pebble Beach, despite entering the final round 3 shots in arrears. Paul Casey looked to all the world a champion, especially after his play over the first three days. The clue to his Sunday struggles was a 1st-round 69 at Pebble. He played the host course worst of all, finishing a mere 4-under over 2 days, after decimating Spyglass and MPCC with 64-67. Mickelson, in contrast, was 9 under at the site of the 2019 US Open, a 5-shot differential which created his winning margin of 3 shots. Lefty had to work overtime, given the rain delay of Sunday, but his final shots on the 18th hole were his strong suit, and a 44th career win on tour was his.

Dare we hope that Mickelson might finally win that US Open? Of course we dare, but we know the likelihood. Still …

LPGA: Celine Boutier overcomes leaders to claim Vic Open title

Kim Kaufman was reminded how difficult it is to win a golf tournament. Solid after 36 holes (132), she went 153 over the next 36 to drop to a tie for 8th. France’s Celine Boutier played 4 consistent rounds between 69 and 72, and held off hometown hero Sarah Kemp’s Sunday 65 by 2 shots, for her first professional victory. After opening with a double, Kemp was magnificent over the remaining holes. She notched 9 birdies, including 5 consecutive on the front nine, to throw a scare into Boutier. The champion was not to be denied, and balanced birdies, bogeys and pars throughout, as she held off Kemp and Su Oh, also of Australia. Oh’s round-one ace propelled her toward a tie for second with Kemp at -6, 2 behind the victor.

European Tour: Vic Open trophy now owned by David Law

Wade Ormsby might feel that the Vic Open owes him one. On his way home on Sunday, he clattered a delightful approach off the flagstick, turning a short birdie putt into a cross-country effort. It’s certain that David Law took matters into his own hands. Faced with a deficit as he entered the closing stretch, Law turned dreams into reality with a birdie-par-eagle finish, making up a handful of strokes on the leader. He signed for -18, then observed both Ormsby and Brad Kennedy bogey the par-3 17th. Kennedy needed birdie at the last to tie, but made par. Ormsby needed eagle, but could only summon birdie. The pair tied for 2nd, one shot out of a playoff. For Law, the Vic was his first European Tour title, after 6 wins in developmental events.

Web.Com Tour: Panama Championship

It was an awfully big ask of Ben Taylor to take the lead on Friday afternoon, and hold it through Sunday. He made it to Saturday evening, but the birdies stopped coming of day foir. The Englishman placed 4th at 5-under par. China’s Carl Yuan achieved notoriety by playing all 4 rounds in the 60s this week, the only member of the field to sub 70 each day. It was good for solo 3rd into 10th on the money list. His countryman, Xinjung Zhang went low on day 4 with 66, and was nearly perfect. His single bogey, at the 15th, was the arrow that kept him from a playoff for the title. Zhang moved from 75th to 7th on The 25 list, one shot behind Michael Gligic of Canada. Gligic, the 2018 PGA Tour Canada list leader, tossed one more birdie than Zhang on Sunday, and his 3 at the 16th proved to be the deciding blow. Gligic won his first Web title at -8, and all the way to 2nd on the money list, $20K shy of leader Mark Anderson.

PGA Tour Champions: Oasis Championship

Heard a new joke today: this German guy walks up to the tee … and wins the tournament. No punch line. For the 13th consecutive calendar year, the 2-time Masters champion won on the over-50 circuit. He didn’t sneak in, either. Langer signed for 65 day three, after opening with 64-68, for a 5-shot margin of victory over Marco Dawson. Each round of the week was unique for the Teutonic tormentor. On day one, Langer posted 8 birdies and 10 pars. Day two surrendered just one birdie, but two eagles countered his only bogey of the week. On day the third, Bernhard the unbeatable had 7 birdies against 11 pars, to reach his 19-under total.

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Ronald Montesano writes for GolfWRX.com from western New York. He dabbles in coaching golf and teaching Spanish, in addition to scribbling columns on all aspects of golf, from apparel to architecture, from equipment to travel. Follow Ronald on Twitter at @buffalogolfer.

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Kuchar defends caddie payment: “For a guy who makes $200 a day, a $5,000 week is a really big week” (Update: Kuchar to pay $50K)

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UPDATE: 2/15, 5:10 p.m. 

Following his opening round at the Riviera Country Club for the Genesis Classic, Matt Kuchar announced he has reversed course and will pay fill-in caddie David Ortiz $50,000 for his services during last year’s Mayakoba Classic.

Kuchar issued that statement below, via PGATour.com.

“This week, I made comments that were out of touch and insensitive, making a bad situation worse. They made it seem like I was marginalizing David Ortiz and his financial situation, which was not my intention. I read them again and cringed. That is not who I am and not what I want to represent. My entire Tour career, I have tried to show respect and positivity. In this situation, I have not lived up to those values or to the expectations I’ve set for myself. I let myself, my family, my partners and those close to me down, but I also let David down. I plan to call David tonight, something that is long overdue, to apologize for the situation he has been put in, and I have made sure he has received the full total that he has requested.

“I never wanted to bring any negativity to the Mayakoba Golf Classic. I feel it is my duty to represent the tournament well, so I am making a donation back to the event, to be distributed to the many philanthropic causes working to positively impact the communities of Playa del Carmen and Cancún.

“For my fans, as well as fans of the game, I want to apologize to you for not representing the values instilled in this incredible sport. Golf is a game where we call penalties on ourselves. I should have done that long ago and not let this situation escalate.”

End update. 

Earlier this week, Matt Kuchar’s stand-in caddie for last year’s Mayakoba Classic spoke about how he felt he was “taken advantage of” after receiving a payment of $5,000 following Kuchar’s win in Mexico, which carried with it a $1,296,000 winners prize. On Wednesday, Kuchar vehemently defended what he sees as a fair and just payment to David Ortiz.

In an interview with Golf.com, Kuchar claimed that he was up front and honest about the arrangement prior to the event, and Ortiz had accepted the terms, which reportedly were $1,000 if Kuchar missed the cut, $2,000 if he made the cut, $3,000 if he had a top-20 and $4,000 if he had a top-10. The reason for Ortiz’ dissatisfaction with the payment post-event? That’s something Kuchar put down to outside influences.

“I kind of think someone got in his ear. I was very clear and very upfront on Tuesday (of the event). And he said, ‘OK.’ He had the ability, with bonuses, to make up to $4,000.

The extra $1,000 was, ‘Thank you — it was a great week.’ Those were the terms. He was in agreement with those terms. That’s where I struggle. I don’t know what happened. Someone must have said, ‘You need much more.’”

Ortiz previously stated in an interview with Golf.com how he had been offered an additional $15,000 but had refused the offer believing it to be substantially short of his $50,000 evaluation.

On Wednesday evening, Kuchar confirmed Ortiz’ story, saying “that was the agency”, and when questioned who would have paid the additional sum had Ortiz accepted, he stated, “It’s not coming out of Steinberg’s pocket.” Referring to his agent Mark Steinberg.

Kuchar will return to Mexico next week for the WGC-Mexico Championship for the first time since his victory in Mayakoba, and for the 40-year-old, the pay dispute is now over. Further explaining why he feels his payment to Ortiz for that week in Mayakoba had been fair, Kuchar stated

“For a guy who makes $200 a day, a $5,000 week is a really big week.”

 

 

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Pro cards a 17 at the LECOM Suncoast Classic, but delivers a valuable message after doing so

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Kevin Na’s infamous 16 at the Valero Texas Open back in 2011 will most likely follow him around for the rest of his career, but over on the Web.com Tour Ben DeArmond eclipsed that number, taking a 17 on his second hole of the day at the LECOM Suncoast Classic.

DeArmond, a club pro at TPC at Treviso Bay, opened the day with a bogey, before stepping on the tee at number two where it all went monumentally wrong. The tee shot on the par-4 second hole is a tester at Lakewood Ranch, with water down the right and OOB down the left. DeArmond hit his first tee shot out of play and then proceeded to do the same with his next five attempts too.

@GolfTalkCanada

DeArmond finally got the ball in-play on his seventh attempt and ended up carding a brutal 17 on the hole.

Speaking after the round, DeArmond who is playing this week on a sponsors exemption said

“I couldn’t get (the ball) up in the air even with a 5-iron, so I’m not used to that, just went a little numb. I’ve never made a 17 in my life, not even when I started playing golf,” he said. “After that it was fine, just had to feel my arms a little bit. … It was just nerves. I had a great range session, felt good going in, and it was just an out-of-body experience on that hole.”

The Floridian carded an opening nine of 54 which would have broken many players spirit, but to DeArmond’s credit, he not only finished the round but steadied the ship on his back nine with a homeward 37 to finish 19-over par.

While nobody could have blamed him if he packed it in after that torturous hole, walking away was never an option for DeArmond, who gave this great piece of advice to all golfers after his round.

“If you learn anything from me today, it’s don’t withdraw, don’t give up, have fun with it. It’s a game, everybody has a bad day.”

DeArmond starts his second round today at 2.06pm ET. Looking on the bright side; he’s just one place back of multiple major champ Angel Cabrera.

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Morning 9: Rainy Riv (Spieth co-leads) | USGA makes a mockery of amateur status? | 17 on a par 4

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By Ben Alberstadt (ben.alberstadt@golfwrx.com)
  • February 15, 2019
Good Friday morning, golf fans.
1. Spieth co-leads suspended round 1 at rainy Riviera
Evin Priest of the AAP…”Jordan Spieth chipping in for birdie to take a share of the Genesis Open lead was the highlight of a rain-soaked and incomplete first round in Los Angeles.”
  • “After significant delays due to heavy rain on Thursday, no golfer in the 144-player field was able to complete the first round before US PGA Tour officials called play for the day just after 5.30pm due to darkness.”
  • “…he was joined moments later by South Korea’s Sung Kang.”

Full piece.

 

2. Mav leads Suncoast (MIKE WEIR 2 strokes back)
Golf Channel’s Brentley Romine…”He chunk-pulled a 3-wood into the water and then flew the green with a wedge to bogey the par-5 16th hole Thursday at Lakewood National in Bradenton, Fla.”
  • “The mistake dropped McNealy back to even par through seven holes. But he remained positive.”
  • “A hole later, he told his caddie, Travis McAllister: “This golf course feels so gettable right now. I feel like I could birdie every hole.”
  • “McNealy just about did. He birdied eight of his last 10 holes and posted a second-nine 29 to shoot 8-under 64 and grab the clubhouse lead at the Web.com Tour’s Lecom Suncoast Classic before play was suspended because of darkness.”
3. 17
A club pro, teeing it up in the Suncoast Classic took no fewer than 17 strokes to get the ball in the hole at a par 4.
  • FTW’s Andrew Joseph…”The hole in itself seemed incredibly difficult: A 491-yard par 4 with water and woods on opposite sides.”
  • “It was a struggle as DeArmond hit six shots out of play. “
  • “At least he only needed one putt from the green. You have to look at the bright side.”
  • “I’ve learned nerves are a real thing,” DeArmond said. “I had a great range session, felt good going in, and it was just an out-of-body experience on that hole.”
4. A blow to amateur golf?
Geoff Shackelford penned a quality look at/scathing take on the USGA’s handling of the Lucy Li situation.
A few highlights…
  • “The message from Lucy Li’s case is clear. Take free stuff. Use your skill as a golfer to be a billboard. Just be famous and likable enough and the governing bodies of golf won’t revoke your status.”
  • “In a sad statement about the weakened state of amateur golf, Lucy Li gets to retain her status despite starring in an Apple Watch ad while wearing scripted Nike apparel. Following a six-week investigation, the USGA determined that Li unknowingly violated amateur status rules after an elaborately produced piece was filmed following a call from “a casting agent for an acting assignment to promote Apple Watch.”
  • And this…”The USGA said in a statement that Romo is in the clear because “everyone knows him first as a professional football player and his fame and fortune is not derived from golf.” But he is adding to his fortune on the back of his likeness as a golfer who competes in U.S. Open qualifying as an excellent amateur.”
Shackelford went on to say the the meaning of “amateur status” has been undermined.
5. Boo’s back
Boo Weekley is teeing it up at this week’s Lecom Suncoast Classic on the Web.com Tour.
  • Golf Channel’s Brentley Romine…”The 45-year-old golfer hasn’t played on the PGA Tour since missing the cut at the 2017 RBC Canadian Open. He had surgery on his right elbow later that summer, after a bout with severe tendinitis, and the recovery kept him from hitting a golf ball for almost a year. When he finally was cleared to return to golf, his right shoulder started giving him trouble. The diagnosis?”
  • “I had cancer,” said Weekley, who went under the knife last July to remove the carcinoma and a cyst that had filled with fluid.
  • “The second operation kept him sidelined until late November…”

Full piece.

6. Actions speak louder?
Golfweek’s Eamon Lynch says Sergio’s entire body of bad behavior trumps any apology tour.
  • “Twenty years ago at Wentworth in England, Garcia reacted to a lousy shot by ripping off his shoe and flinging it into the gallery. After missing a putt at Doral in 2007, he retrieved his ball then spit into the cup, a snotty gesture of contempt toward the competitors unfortunate enough to be playing behind him.”
  • “Those are but two snowflakes in a blizzard of boorish behavior.”
  • “There’s a club tossed into a lake, fans flipped off, microphones obliterated, his whirling dervish slashing in the bunker the day before his DQ in Saudi -all set to a whiny soundtrack that blames poor results on everyone from Tiger Woods to Carnoustie’s bunker rakers.”

Full piece.

 

7. Meanwhile, in Perth…
European Tour report…“Panuphol Pittayarat fired an impressive round of 66 to set the clubhouse target early on day two of the ISPS Handa World Super 6 Perth.”
  • “The innovative event is making its third appearance in the Race to Dubai, with three rounds of stroke play cutting the field before the top 24 players go head-to-head in six hole knockout match play on Sunday to decide a winner.”
At this writing, Thomas Pieters, Ryan Fox, and Matthew Griffing are tied at the top as well.

Full piece.

 

8. On Spec
Wanted to alert y’all to our Ryan Barath’s club building and fitting podcast, On Spec. Whether you’re an experienced enthusiast or a mere dabbler, you’ll enjoy the pod.
9. Tiger 17 Gloves
Indicating what we might expect going forward from the partnership, in exclusive video content for GolfTV Tiger Woods talked with Henni Zuel about his approach to playing in the rain.
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